When I moved to my new place in Marpole, my bedroom was an extremely important consideration. Gastown had always been loud and bright. Over 5 years there, I learned to ignore the lights in the courtyard outside, and the lights of SFU Woodwards across that courtyard, which remained on all night. But I never got over the noise, from the Charles Bar, crazy people or drunk people shouting outside, and the hum of air vents on the many buildings close by. I have never been a great sleeper, but over the past few years it's become even more difficult for me to have a good sleep. In the past years, 2 -3 sleepless nights a week has become the norm rather than the exception. It wasn't unusual for me to be up and awake until 4 in the morning on a regular basis. By the time I moved, I was desperate for quiet, and for somewhere I thought I might be able to sleep. I chose the north facing suite, which faces into an alley and residential backyards, rather than the south, to avoid even the little bit of street noise you could hear in the south suite from West 70th Avenue.
In my past few apartments, my "colour" theme has been turquoise and yellow: bright versions in the living areas, more muted shades in my bedroom. But for whatever reason, when I moved to my Marpole place, I suddenly decided I wanted my room to be red. My spare room in Gastown had been red, full of bright artwork and a graphic poppy-printed bedspread (when one of my movers saw my bed he said "Wow! It's Remembrance Day up in here!" - maybe not the most sexy thought), and that's what I decided I wanted in my bedroom. I've since picked up another red-themed bedspread (isn't it always nice to have two - one for when the other's in the laundry?), but continued on this "red" path.
When I was young, my parents let me choose the decor for my room in our house on Winchester Road, where I grew up. I asked for red and white hearts, and they wallpapered half my walls in crisp white wallpaper with hearts. My bed had a red and white striped quilt (which my brother and sister-in-law have on their bed now). When my grandmother, my Dad's mom, passed away, I inherited her four poster bed, which my Dad painted white, with tiny red wooden hearts affixed to the headboard. My dressers were painted white with red drawers. Every Valentines' Day, another item with red and white hearts made its way into my room. And I loved it. It stayed that way until I was at least 16 and too cool for hearts.
As I began picking up bits and bobs for my new bedroom here in Marpole, I found myself drawn to stuff with red hearts again. It occurred to me that I really liked the idea of a throwback to my childhood sanctuary. Not to be a kid again, or to have a wish to go back, but to move forward with some connection to the "me" that was a kid in that bedroom. To connect to the home I grew up in, which I sorely miss - this somehow made me feel closer to my family, who aren't around on a daily basis. My dressers were already a throwback - they were also my Dad's mom's, and sat in my own parents' bedroom on Winchester. My dad repainted them for me when I came home from London with no money and no furniture.
Then I started to find things I already had, that I wanted out and visible, because they made me feel even more connected to family, and to that essential sense of myself and where I came from. I put vintage pillowcases on the bed, which my Mom noted had lived in Marpole before, in the home she grew up in a few blocks away on 62nd. They had belonged to my grandmother, who lived her whole life in this neighbourhood, but who I never met. I put out some vintage glass dishes, which I remembered sitting on my grandfather's bathroom counter when I was a kid, one filled with soap and one with cotton balls, but which my mom told me her mom used to store her hairpins in.
It's all Valentinesy up in here. Curriecat doesn't care as long as her pink blankie is on the bed.
The heart that started it all. This was an Opening Night gift from my director, Rick Tae, when I performed in "A…My Name is Alice." It hangs on my bedroom door.
The "doggie dishes." The only thing I asked for from my Grandpa's house when he passed away, I remembered fishing out cotton balls and little hotel soaps from these as a kid. My grandma Annette used them for her hairpins. That's her on the left.
My dad thinks all the hearts are "too foufou". That may be so. I am unapologetically foufou.
That's it, that's all.
When I showed my parents my room on FaceTime, my dad grumbled that it was too girly, that no boy would like red hearts. "It's too FOUFOU," he said jokingly-but-not. ("
FOUFOU" I shot back. Great comeback, Dan.) But the reality is, no boy lives here. It's me, it's my room, and the connection to home and to family, and the feeling of belonging that it gives me, are worth the risk of a boy not liking it. Of course it's not to everybody's taste. It might not always be to mine. But things can always change, and for right now I need my room to be a place I feel cozy, safe, and connected. Home is where the heart is. Literally.